Tuesday, April 21, 2015

And Then There Was One

One incumbent running, that is. 

Director Peaslee today announced that, like Directors Carr and Martin-Morris, she will not be seeking another term on the Seattle School Board.  She says:
Although serving on the Seattle School Board has been one of the more satisfying experiences of my life, it's now time to support my two children through college.
She talks about the work still to be done and, like Director Carr, names the Seattle Pre-K program.  I have to say the public push for this program by the Board is interesting given how little attention it had before its passage by them.  (Or at least, publicly.) 

It almost makes me wonder if any of these directors will have a second act in the City's Office of Education.

What's fascinating is that the Board, with three members leaving in December is going to continue to devote a chunk of time on learning about governance.  I find that baffling for a group of smart people who have had numerous "board trainings."

At this point, I would think their time would be better served actually doing the work of the Board.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm a little disappointed with some calling out departing School Board members for listing the Pre-K agreement with the city as an accomplishment.

Why?

The underlying tone is that these board members are in cahoots with the ed reformers, Pearson, whatever, and the Pre-k initiative is the manifestation of that relationship.

The real problem is one which Melissa pointed out long ago (and really is the single most effective argument against Pre-K at Seattle Public Schools):

Pre-K is outside the scope of what the school district is directed to administer. While it is an admirable cause, and perhaps need to happen, nothing should occur outside of that scope while the product inside the scope remains substandard.

It's really too bad that the above has gotten lost in the wash here.

The same thing principle follows in business. If you can't do what you're already doing well, how can you expand. A great example of this is Comcast and NBC's merger. Comcast is an awful company, and does poorly at delivering their core product. They bought out NBC looking toward vertical integration with a content provider, but they've done nothing but run it into the ground. Why? They don't have people in place that can manage and operate the core business well, and that passed on to their new subsidiary.

northwesterner

David said...

Hmm, north westerner, that's not what I gathered from people calling out the Pre-K thing - I actually was thinking people meant just what you said, that Pre-K is outside the scope of SPS and not what they should be focussing on.

Anonymous said...

There's been a lot, especially lately, of tying the Pre-K stuff in with the ed reform group, charter schools, Pearson and the other usual boogeymen.

northwesterner

Melissa Westbrook said...

Northwesterner, I, too, missed that tying together of ed reform. (And Pearson? That's way out there.)

Nope, it's called doing your core business well and then taking on more.

My issue is that this district is not fully-funded AND has capacity issues. What they are doing worrying about the City's prek-K program is beyond me.

But the City's Pre-K does indeed tie to charter schools (they don't use that word but here's what they say):

"Is a new school with a population of students who receive free and reduced-price lunch that is above SPS district wide average, or a population of students who are English Language Learners that is above SPS district wide average"

That "new school" language would include charters.

NotABurgessFan said...

Tim Burgess and Ed Murray are amongst the first to throw Seattle Public Schools, board, teachers etc. under the bus. Yet, they know, full well, that they are reliant upon the talent within SPS to get a job done. Amazing.

mirmac1 said...

Perhaps the soon to be retired directors see themselves as the best candidates for a Murray-appointed board. Wouldn't surprise me in the least. Marty may have not gotten the memo.

Anonymous said...

I have no evidence (these are just my opinions -- and I am deeply suspicious of the ed reform crowd) -- but I think that pulling in Pre-K works well for the ed reform crowd for a couple of reasons (none of which have anything to do with pre K learning, or true concern for pre K kids):

1. First, it is an "ed" arena where there is far less in the way of organized push back from those who work in the field. There are far fewer unions. There is much less education involved (too bad, because there is just as much need for expertise, in terms of child development, brain science, etc.). But it is much easier to build an "ed reform" structure based around private money, testing, tracking of information without the same crowd of privacy folks, etc. criticizing what they do).

2. IF they can build an "alternate" "ed reform" education delivery system at the pre-K level, it becomes much easier to muscle their way into regular elementary ed (the same way that a merger or consolidation, with one set of CEOs/CFOs/Board members sort of "taking over" administration, is seen as less agressive than a full on assault by dissident shareholders seeking to take over a corporation in a hostile takeover. You already see elements of this in the way the City now uses City levy money, the SSD/City "parthership" for pre K stuff, etc. The Alliance sort of tried this tactic as well, but it didn't work as well as maybe they had hoped (though it did plenty of damage).

3. Finally, if the big ed corporations cannot get us to give them enough public money for elementary ed (which used to be largely financed with public dollars going to public entities), maybe they can achieve a reasonable income flow at the pre-K level, assuming they can get city councils and state/national legislators to start sending them a stream of public tax dollars to "educate" pre-K kids. The fact that in the past, people paid for pre-K themselves, or got it through public avenues like Head Start or state-funded pre-k programs for lower-income families is just an obstacle to be overcome. When you are feeding at the public trough, it doesn't really matter how you get the hose turned your way, as long as it turns in the end, and the spigot is open.

If people were to propose that pre-K be funded and run entirely through the regular school systems (with state-employed teachers (yes! with unions! and benefits, etc.), I suspect that the ed reform tune would change in a flash.

Jan

NW mom said...

I also think that Tim Burgess and Ed Murray have bigger political ambitions beyond Seattle and are anxious to tout their Pre-K accomplishments at the Federal level.

NW mom said...

And it seems like you can add Martin-Morris to that list as well.

Anonymous said...

Jan has it. You bet there's a tie-in between PreK and Ed Reform.

For the thousandth time: Follow the money.

WSDWG

Transparency Please said...

Very important to remember: The city's prek campaign was funded by the same individuals that funded the charter school initiative. Burgess et.al were able to raise $1.2M for the city's prek initiative. The funders were not known until after endorsements were procured.

Transparency Please said...

Will the city decide to open a brand new charter school prek?

One must keep an eye on the city and the use of P5. The "P" designation can mean prenatal-5 years old or prek-5. Why the confusion?

Anonymous said...

I find this interesting, Transparency Please, but can't figure it out. Do you think this is deliberate obfuscation? Or is it more like the APP vs AP errors -- where a lot of folks just don't pay enough attention to get the acronyms correct?

Jan

Anonymous said...

Jan,

I wish it were. Of note, is the new appointment of City's Office of Ed Division , Ms. Aguirre, wife of future Parks Dept Chair Aguirre, both Charter School Alumini - Rhee fans ..... What's up with that?

Pleased to announce my recent endorsements:

Joe McDermott, Rod Dembowski and Larry Gosset, King County Councilmembers, State Rep Eileen Cody, former SPS Director No. 6 Irene Stewart, and former Seattle City Councilwoman Tina Podlodowski have endorsed my campaign. So proud and humbled by the support.

www.harrisforschoolboard.com

Pls. give me your thoughts and input and heads up for engagements! Harrislsh@comcast.net

Leslie Harris

Transparency Please said...

Jan,

I don't think using the letter "p" as both prenatal and prek is a mistake. The Gates Foundation is fully behind the city's initiative. The Gates Foundation, city and district are masters when it comes to embedding language into the strategic plan. It is called scaffolding.

I recommend you support Leslie Harris for school board, too.

dw said...

mirmac said: Perhaps the soon to be retired directors see themselves as the best candidates for a Murray-appointed board. Wouldn't surprise me in the least. Marty may have not gotten the memo.

Ha. Great one.

Wouldn't surprise me either.